Issue #22: The Breaking Storm

This entry is part 11 of 15 in the series The Descendants Vol 2: Magic and Machines

Part 4

Samael’s shield flashed into place just as the animated debris-creature slammed into him, teeth squealing against the force generated by his bracer. He desperately thrashed about with his wings until he managed to push himself out of harm’s way – just in time to see a veritable geyser of black heat slam into the thing from below, folding it upon itself and slamming it back into the four other onrushing beasts.

“Strike!” From the back of Embarr, Lucian let loose a volley from his lance, which shattered the leg of one of the beasts. He and the SUV that had followed him through the gate came to a stop a bit away from the main fighting. Before the sound of tires screeching had faded, Facsimile launched herself out the sunroof and both Codex and Zero had their doors open. Rehenimaru uncoiled form the death-grip she’d had on Embarr’s back and leapt toward the battle.

Chaos watched the latter curiously as he landed between Codex and the Ape Knight. He spoke even as he deposited Occult on the ground. “Am I glad to see you!” He said, “But we’re going to need some help of the explosive variety. Any ETA on the General?”

Codex shook her head. “He’s not coming.” She said apologetically. “The FAA has grounded all air traffic in the Mayfield area due to the storm. They don’t know what they’re dealing with. And the cops are tied up with the side effects.”

“Do I want to know the side effects?”

“Effects common to fey storms;” Lucian started before Codex could properly sugarcoat it. “increased appearances by ghosts, objects animating, fey-wyld creatures manifest—“

“That is exactly what I didn’t want to hear.” Chaos stopped him.

“That was a demon,” Occult said, watching Rehenimaru, who was skirting the battle and moving the when Aberak and Edenkai had fallen, “Wasn’t it?”

Codex nodded. “She’s called Rehenimaru. Her species survives on emotional resonance; with human emotions being their equivalent of carbo-loading. But right now, she’s on our side. Apparently what Morganna’s doing will destroy their homeland.”

“On our side?” Occult snapped, “That’s easy for you to say; one of those things wants to possess me.”

“No one said we were trusting her.” Codex replied, “I’m not the kind of idiot that thinks a deal with the devil is even an option. As of right now though, there isn’t much we can do without harming the host she’s taken and stopping Morganna is the first step to dealing with them.”

“So stopping Morganna…” Chaos sounded the words out, “will save us—our powers and such—but it’ll save a bunch of critters that see humanity as the three dollar buffet?”

“It’s not even a choice, Chaos.” Codex said simply. “We may be willing to give up our powers to destroy the demons, but we can’t speak for ever other descendant on Earth. We don’t have that right any more than Morganna does.”

“Never gave it a thought.” Chaos assured, “Just pointing out what a shitty, shitty position we’re in.” He nodded to the Ape Knight. “Lucian, old pal, I’ve love to hear where the hell you’ve been and what’s with the car show armor, but—“

“You don’t have to say another word, my friend.” Lucian said, “There is a battle to be joined. Once we are victorious, there will be plenty of time to talk.” With that, he spurred Embarr to charge. Chaos took to the air and followed.

Codex was left with Occult and Zero.

“How much trouble are we in?” Zero asked, watching the green lighting racing through the swirling clouds.

“Demons, Morganna, the fey-wyld…” Occult listed. “I’d say ‘enough’ if not ‘all of it’. I wish I knew some combat spells. Shields and crystal bonds are fine for common criminals, but those dragons are going to need something heavy duty.”

“I have a solution to that.” Codex unclipped a handheld device from her belt and offered it to the younger woman.

“What’s that?” Occult and Zero echoed.

“The Book of Reason – translated, of course.”

“As in a spell book?” Occult asked. “In digi-book format?”

“Big leather books are pretty cumbersome in battle.” Codex said, “Not to mention that this has a reference index and search function.” She looked toward the battle. “You two help the others now. I’ve got to find a way to bring down Morganna’s circle of protection.”

“I don’t know how to thank you for this.” Occult said.

“Save my powers, protect my teammates, and we’ll call it even.” Codex said.

Zero grabbed Occult’s arm and began to run toward the fight. “Come one, Occult, they’re going to need us!”

***

Alloy rolled under a swooping attack, narrowly avoiding the monster’s gnashing jaws. The ground split and bled liquid metal that snaked into his hands and formed a zweihänder which he thrust into a passing wing joint. Stone and steel screamed as supernaturally sharp steel separated the wing from the body and the magic that held it all together. There was a noise like a truck full of fine crystal flipping over and the wing came apart into a shower of glass and cement shards.

The injured dragon crashed to the ground, its muzzle cutting a furrow in the ground all the way down to the metal beams that formed the ceiling of the underground parking lot.

“Rule number six hundred and fifty.” Alloy said to Isp and Osp. “Mook dragons are a bad thing to send against a literal knight in shining armor.” The tentacles were about to express their agreement when a second beast hit him from behind, clamping a claw across his midsection and lifting him into the air.

“Can’t you go one battle without needing me to bail you out?” A wry voice asked just before a golden blur smashed into the clawed foot holding Alloy.

Where were you when I was dead?” Alloy asked smugly as Facsimile set about trying to force the talons open with the help of the tentacles.

“When you were what?!”

“There’s a crazy guy with metal wings somewhere around here. He put a feather through me… I think.” Enough leeway was finally available to allow Alloy to wriggle out of the creature’s grasp. “But I’m okay now; Hope healed me.” He let the tentacles lash around the monster’s forelimb and hoist him onto it. “Hey, are these guys getting bigger?”

“I just got here.” Facsimile replied, head spinning from the previous revelation.

Alloy looked below and saw bits and pieces from the ground floating upward to fuse to the dragon’s form. “They are growing! Fax, we’ve got to figure out how to finish one of these things off before they’re big enough to stomp us out!”

“Can’t you, ya know, ‘Alloy’ them? I see bits of metal sticking out of this thing.”

“No can do. I think I figured it out; I can’t affect metal that’s under the influence of magic.”

Facsimile looked over as another of the creatures shrugged off the biggest black heat blast she’d ever seen Darkness create and simply ignore Chaos’s compressed air missiles. “So we’re boned then?”

A beam of red light suddenly illuminated their world as it cut the air before them and lanced into the dragon they were currently aboard. It traveled upward, melting the wing to molten slag even as it bisected the thing at the torso. The crystalline sound filled the air as the duo’s mode of transportation returned to being a mere collection of smashed debris.

***

Rehenimaru looked up in shock. A second before, she had been tending her fallen superiors, aiding their own natural regeneration with her own meager healing magics. Now she looked up at the towering figure of Colos, Lord of Sai’n’shree. He hadn’t been there in the previous moment. Now he filled her vision.

Watching the dragon he’d felled crumble to dust, the demon lord lowered his weapon. It was a long, boxy thing of metal and tubes and flashing lights. Steam clung to the barrel, which had just unleashed red death.

“Lord Colos.” Rehenimaru said in a voice that stopped just short of building him a shrine. “What manner of magic was that?”

Colos regarded her carefully. “It is the fusion of Mankind’s technology with their old magic: Magitech. It is more powerful than our si-ring rhea blood magic and can target the Astral Plane.”

“Then you did find a way to vanquish the Heir of Hyrilius.” Edenkai rose unsteadily. “And what of the warriors of Mankind?”

“They will help us.” Rehenimaru said slyly. “I brokered a peace with them.”

“No.” Edenkai spat. “They protect the young witch and I intend to add her power to mine.”

Aberak nodded, but for an entirely different reason. “Demons depend on a Mankind? Preposterous! They are our food, our hosts—not our allies!”

Colos held up a silencing hand. “Time are changing, Aberak. They are our food and our hosts and our allies. I have brokered a trade with one of their number who holds the secret of weapons such as these; some he theorizes to be even more powerful. Driving his organization to chaos would be counterproductive as long as we can trade with him, don’t you think?”

He watched the astonishment on their faces and savored it. “As for the warriors; I still cannot be sure that we can breech the protections the Heir has laid upon the eye of the storm. If they can do it, I will certainly not interfere.”

Edenkai gave him a measuring look. “We bought nothing here.” She said, “What did you bargain with?”

Colos gave her a level look. “Only what is mine.” He said evenly. “Now, to battle. We cannot let Sai’n’shree fall!”

***

“Ready?” Zero asked as she and Occult rushed forward. One of the dragons took notice and winged toward them.

“I think so.” Occult said, looking over the information on the digital version of the Book of Reason.

Zero noticed the beast coming. “I don’t think we have a choice anymore.” She declared nervously and raised her hands at the thing. The temperature dipped dramatically and a thick crust of frost formed over its head.

Occult nodded to herself and recited from the book, holding one cupped hand out in front of her. “O Holy western wind, which blows across the blazing sand, give your breath to me and let it fill my hand.” A spark of orange light awakened in her hand. “I cast thee forth to strike down those who stand against me!” Any lack of confidence departed like shadows in the dawn as the telltale surge of magic filled Occult, “Sacred Flame of the Sun! Fireball!” With sudden dramatic flare, she reared back and hurled the deadly object at the oncoming wall of teeth.

The fireball hit the beast’s snout and became a massive conflagration. Ice turned to steam amid the dozens of nooks and crannies that made up the head, pulling them apart as it sought open air. The dragon disintegrated into an avalanche that continued forward toward the two heroines.

Globo de la fureza!” The wave of rock, metal and glass, broke around the two as they stood within the globe of force. Occult grinned. “Not bad, huh? A little of the old with the new?”

Zero blinked at the ruined dragon, and then smiled broadly. “That was amazing! We work really well together, don’t we?”

“Yeah,” Occult said, looking at Zero and only seeing Snackrifice’s lead singer. “We should do it more often.”

***

A tail slap drove Samael out of the air and sent him bouncing across the ground, his metallic wings kicking up sparks. Seconds later, the Ape Knight’s lance separated the offending tail from its body, causing a fine layer of dust to fall upon the mercenary.

As he reeled, trying to get his bearing, Vorpal appeared in silhouette above him. “You.” He hissed.

“That had to hurt.” Vorpal said, stooping down beside him. “Landing on the wings certainly had to. I mean they are fused to your spine, right? But I’m talking about your pride. You just got floored by a piece of masonry and you still haven’t shaken the cobwebs out, have you?”

“Yes, stay this close; I’ll open a couple veins for you.” Samael threatened. “First of course, I’m going to cut that stupid mask off you and see what’s so ugly that you have to hide it all the time.” He started to rise but Vorpal put a hand on his wing and suddenly, he found himself unable to move.

“No, I don’t think you’ll be doing much of anything.” Vorpal said. A shooting pain ran up his spine. “I can paralyze you, you know? I’d really like to because I’ve heard about everything you’ve done and frankly it makes me sick. If you were just anyone who’d done what you’d done, I’d snicker-snack you free of charge. Maybe ask to keep the head as a memento.”

She leaned down very close to his face. “See, I have psychotic urges too. That’s why I’m a hired killer after all. The difference though, is that I’m trying to deal with it. That and the fact that I follow orders. Liedecker, for whatever reason, only wanted me to make sure you followed the rules; not to kill or maim you.”

The pain eased and Samael started to swing at her. But then the pain returned a dozen-fold and he was reduced to writhing on his back, helpless.

“So I’ll just put you out of the game temporarily.” Vorpal shrugged and walked off, leaving the fight entirely.

***

Codex double-checked the spell she’d selected and looked over at the battle. She wanted to be out there helping her teammates. ‘I am helping my teammates’ the purely analytical part of her pointed out. That was academic. Without a way to break through Morganna’s circle of protection, nothing happening on the battleground mattered.

By now two of the dragons were down, the demons all seemed to be back in action (one carrying a really big gun), and Laurel wished that she had offensive powers just as much as Occult had. She had hoped magic would have been the answer, but she had no natural potential for it and thus would be limited to ritual magic, which rarely had offensive applications.

Somewhere in the back of her mind, she vowed to talk with the others about leaving the street level crime to her and her various martial arts skills just so she no longer felt left out.

But dragons and a world altering spell weren’t street level at all. And at the moment, the best she could do was look up the proper way to deal with it. Consigning herself to her current role, she touched her com. “Zero? Are you still with Occult? Good. Tell her to go to page seven hundred and ninety. We need to get her up the side of the building so she can bring down the circle of protection. I’ll send Darkness to take her there.”

***

Green lightning stuck the bubble of protection provided by Morganna’s circle as she steadily drew a circle of runes. It made impressive light patterns all around her, which she dutifully ignored if she even noticed them.

It would be very soon now. The runes were almost complete, the Astral was moving and the gateway to Sai’n’shree was almost open, and then the world would belong to magic once more.

Series Navigation<< Issue #21: Come the Black CloudsA MagiTech Crisis: Epilogue >>

About Vaal

Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter.

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